I don’t know who needs to hear this right now, but! Since reminders are always good:
God loves you.
Yes, you. No matter how unworthy of love that you may feel, no matter how broken you think you are, no matter how worthless you feel He loves you. In fact, He loves you more than you will ever know.
Do I need to repeat myself?
God loves you.
How much does He love you? Here is one of the stories that Jesus told, in order to describe how much God really loves us:
11Then he said, “A man had two sons, 12and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. 13After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. 14When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. 15So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. 16And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. 17Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. 18I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’ 20So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. 21His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ 22But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, 24because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. 25Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. 26He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. 27The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. 29He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. 30But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ 31He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. 32But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”
Let’s take a look at this picture, which illustrates this story:
See how lovely the details are? Murillo certainly did a beautiful job! Best yet, this art was originally displayed for a hospital which served the homeless, hungry, and the poorest of all. Which makes this artwork even more powerful, in my opinion.
There are many little details in this painting! The servants have brought out the finest robe, his sandals, and yes! Even the ring. If you can’t see the ring, click a picture to see it in even greater quality! The man next to the man carrying out the robe is holding the ring.
Take a good look at the robe… it is blue. In the ancient world, blue was the hardest dye to come by, so blue garments were exceedingly rare. Thus, this robe is particularly fine!
Some of the servants are bringing out the fattened calf… along with the means to slaughter it, indicating that a feast will indeed take place!
But the focus of this painting? The father and his once-lost son. And the father and the son are together in a loving embrace, their eyes only on each other.
Mind you, the father could have very easily disowned his son in anger. Or, perhaps he could have taken his son’s words at face value and turned his son into a servant.
But the father didn’t. Instead, he forgave and welcomed his son back into the family.
And that is how much God loves you.